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Will 2013 Be a Lucky Number for Entrepreneurs?

Optimism In 2013

Will 2013 Be a Lucky Number for Entrepreneurs?

With retail sales inching upward in advance of the holiday shopping season and economic indicators looking better than they have in recent years, we’re wondering whether 2013 will prove to be a turnaround year for the economy. We certainly hope so and we’re taking a few minutes away from flurry to think about what has sustained us through these tough times. reported earlier this year that market research leader IBISWorld identified these retail sectors as the top five prospects for 2012, based on start-up costs, barriers to entry, and estimated 2012 revenue: tires; handbags, luggage, and accessories; art; furniture; and specialty foods. Not only did the decidedly unglamorous tire dealership top the list, its expected growth of 10% is almost double that of the leading trailer, handbags and related goods, at 5.5%. Continue Reading…

Prepare For Inventory Returns

Minimize Returns To Maximize Profits

Every year, the sales peak ends at Christmas for most direct retailers. That means that the inventory returns peak is just starting.

While returns are inevitable, they often affect warehouse operations and customer service departments the hardest. However, these end-of-season returns also affect financial results because of their toll on profits. Merchandisers and inventory planners must account for returns throughout the year.

Soft goods (apparel) tend to have high return rates. Menswear and footwear averages a 10% to 20% return rate. A 20% to 30% return rate is typical for women’s basic apparel. Returns on women’s fashion apparel can go above 30%.

So why do these percentages matter?  Think of it this way. A return rate of 20% for a retailer with $10 million in apparel sales means $2 million in returned sales. Include the resulting reduction in gross margin dollars plus the cost of processing returns:  free return shipping costs, demand on your call center, funding a returns department, managing what becomes distressed inventory and it’s obvious that returns can deeply impact a company’s bottom line. Continue Reading…

Company Character

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”- Abraham Lincoln

There is nothing more important for a business than to have good character.  Working Person’s Store embodies this character and thus follows a good reputation. The fact that Working Person’s Store has this good reputation makes it among the our most valuable assets. Our reputation is staked on what customers think about how we do business and how our business character is assessed.

Do we compete fairly?  Do we run a smooth, clean operation?  Do we treat our employees well?  Do we bad-mouth competition or speak about them with respect? Continue Reading…

Six Tenets of the Big Box Discounter

Six Tenets of the Big Box Discounter

Working Person’s Store is in no means a big box discounter. However, we do endeavor to merge the prices and merchandising of larger companies with the quality and service of smaller companies to ensure the best possible outcome for our valued customers.

In the quest for lower prices and better merchandising, it is important to understand the six tenets the big box discounter adheres to.

1. An appeal to the lowest prices.
2. An excess of square footage.
3. A method of merchandising based on the concept “Pile it high, sell it cheap.”
4. The elimination of service.
5. The implementation of self-service shelving, techniques, etc.
6. An abundance of advertising with the primary message “Items sold below cost.”

Working Person’s Store works to compete with big box companies by keeping prices competitive, product selection better and back it with service and training. Through our frequent specials and coupons and easy online access, we present the best of both worlds.

Company Leadership

Company Leadership

“Through shared vision and good values, common people can accomplish extraordinary things.”

A job shouldn’t just be a means to an end; it should be a partnering of life purpose with productive work.  At, our leadership understands the natural need to know life’s significance, especially in relation to daily work. Our quality products and staff reflect this need and seek to provide customers with merchandise that has purpose.

Because our leadership at wants to help employees grow in the Company, we work to understand their perspectives. It’s our goal to be great encouragers; thus, we strive to help them pursue loyalty, dedication, and ongoing employment with us.  Just as much as we care that our Carhartt jeans will last customers many years, we care about each employee on a personal and professional level. We don’t want anyone to be a nameless face in a crowd. Great companies who have lost this understanding have not remained great for very long.

As a result of this individual attention, we expect effective leaders to support and be as well supported as their feet in a pair of our Ironclad Rocky work boots. In order for any collaboration to work, a frontrunner is needed.  The leader we need is someone whose traits separate them from the rest of the pack. What Working Person’s Store requests leaders to exhibit follows:

  • Healthy disposition toward others
  • Ability to embody constant integrity
  • Desire to achieve short and long-term goals
  • Attitude that is pleased but never satisfied with present results
  • Skill to promote and teach personal talents to others
  • Responsibility to find others’ strengths and push them to succeed as a result
  • Capacity to make decisions based on the company’s core philosophy, values, and beliefs
  • Able to guard against company bureaucracy
  • Adept at understanding that some work on the business and some work in the business
  • Gifted at ensuring the business provides to customers what it has told them it would

Effective company leaders, by the very nature of the work they are to accomplish, must be developers of people, risk takers, and continuously striving to learn and grow themselves. Like the exceptional quality of our products, so must our leaders be.

Training Session Planning

Session Planning

Put The Students In The Center Of The Learning Process

Session Planning

One of the Working Person’s Store employee level training goals is to include very job specific content in each training session. This is often material of a technical nature that must be known by the employee in order to serve the Working Person’s Store customer well.

The best content and the most professionally designed materials however are not enough to accomplish our training goals!  Working Person’s Store trainers therefore must do more than organize and present the subject matter well. You might ask then, what else is needed?

The answer: Place the learner at the center of the learning process.

This means the learner must be just as active and involved in the session as is the presenter.

Placing The Learner At The Center Of The Learning Process Continue Reading…

Effective Staffing

Effective Staffing
Staff Effectively

The effective company makes common people achieve uncommon performance.  It understands its task is to use the strength of each team member  as a building block for performance.

When staffing for strength, the effective organization follows four rules:

  1. Any job that has defeated two or three people in succession, even though each had performed well in previous assignments, must be assumed unfit for human beings.  It must be redesigned.
  2. Each job must be made both demanding and big.
  3. The organization always starts out with what each team member can do rather than what the job requires.  This in turn, requires the organization to do it’s thinking about people long before the decision on filling a job has to be made.
  4. Know that to get strength one has to put up with weaknesses. Continue Reading…

Effectiveness Can Be Learned

Retail Business Effectiveness
Effectiveness Can Be Learned

“In today’s organizations the center of gravity has shifted to the knowledge worker, the person who puts to work what they have  between their ears.”

Principle One

In today’s business world, leaders are expected to get the ‘right things’ done which means they are expected to be effective.

Principle Two

A person’s intelligence, imagination or knowledge is not enough to be effective.  These attributes become effective only through hard, systematic work.

Principle Three

Effectiveness is the specific technology of the knowledge worker within an organization. Continue Reading…

Business Success Secrets

Retail Success
Entrepreneur Magazine focused on those fast-growing businesses who seized the opportunity, found their niche and pushed the envelope.

Each of the companies gave their “success secret.”  I have gleaned these for review and possible implementation:


  • Develop a core competency  and stick to it.
  • Don’t do it all yourself.  Use the advice of others.
  • Surround yourself with incredibly talented individuals, provide a culture where they can showcase their talents and grow.
  • Hire the best possible person for the job.
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
  • Make decisions based on experience and instinct.
  • Focus on those around you.  When the success of others becomes a priority, success will follow.
  • Spend as much time and resources on customer relations and service as possible.
  • Hire for attitude, and train for skill
  • You’re only as good as the people who work with you
  • Hire people who possess a tremendous work ethic and great attitude.  Train them, provide the with the best tools and processes to succeed, motivate them, and watch them perform.
  • Hard work, commitment to excellence, incredible employees sharing the same commitment to excellence
  • Surround yourself with talented people, and do not run out of cash
  • Don’t fail to plan. Planning should be the core focus on a daily basis.
  • Build the business on the premise that our “assets” drive home every night and provide a work environment that encourages them to return the next day, motivated and excited to be part of the team
  • Focus on where the puck is going and not where it is.
  • To give back to our society for the blessings we have received
  • Identify a specific customer base; determine the immediate needs of that base; set defined, measurable goals to meet those needs; communicate the goals to employees
  • Passion! If you care, you’ll do your very best
  • Work hard. Don’t be afraid to take chances
  • Celebrate the victories, learn from past failures, always remain customer focused
  • Put the customer first. Reminding the team they work for the customer.
  • Get close to customers and build relationships.
  • Allow the customer to tell when their needs have changed
  • Once the vision has been validated, don’t allow others to distract.  Stay focused, realize the vision. Keep plowing away
  • Have the courage to take action when it is needed.
  • Always surround yourself with people smarter than you.
  • Recognize that cash is king.  In the early life of any business, cash flow is the most important thing.  It allows the business to survive and fix any problems along the way.
  • Offer better products or services that the competition.
  • Be accountable.  Always hold yourself and employees to a higher standard of service.
  • Listen
  • Deliver high-quality along with affordable prices
  • Stand out from the pack. Create points of difference from competition.  Don’t do what everyone else does.
  • Do not accept the status quo.
  • Continually build on core competencies, and make every effort to identify natural extensions of the business.
  • Never become complacent
  • Promote the most competent
  • Invest heavily in technological competence to provide a balance of customer-relationship management and technologically advanced service offerings
  • Value customers and employees.  Treat them with a great deal of respect, or someone else will
  • Identify and take advantage of weaknesses in the competition. Use them as an opportunity to provide more value and better customer service.
  • Continually add significant and differentiating value.
  • Never doubt your company’s ability to be successful
  • Employ only the best of the best
  • Never allow greed to dictate decisions
  • Develop an endless referral network
  • Deploy the “customer-for-life philosophy
  • Sam Walton: There is only one boss: the customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else>
  • Start with a solid business philosophy, strategy and plan. Then deliver it with perfection.
  • Focus on what you know how to do, and be the best at it.
  • Focus on the core business. Don’t try to be everything to everyone
  • Allow employees to do their jobs
  • Stay humble, never believe you’re the best, otherwise somebody will beat you.
  • Recognize that nothing comes easily.  You have to take risks and work twice as hard to get what you want
  • Think BIG! The only limits to success are those you place on yourself or the business.
  • Set high standards and you will grow into your expectations.
  • Raise enough cash to think big but never allow any one shareholder, including you, gain enough control to determine the outcome
  • Understand clearly that you will always miss 100% of the shots you never take
  • Do not lose control of the business regardless how much you grow
  • Understand that great opportunities can be missed when you believe you know everything
  • Don’t look back.  Look ahead at the opportunities down the road, and spend less time agonizing over yesterday’s wrong turns.
  • Always answer the phone properly
  • Believe in yourself, and listen to your gut.  Be proactive in all aspects of your business, but give employees latitude to make an impact
  • Be the leader, not the follower.  Understand your niche in the marketplace better than your competitors
  • Make company culture a strategic goal.  Find a voice for all employees, and build a team culture that empowers employees to thrive
  • Exceed your customer’s expectations
  • Always respond quickly to the market and its demands—don’t argue with it

Year End Team Evaluation

Year End Evaluation
What was your proudest single accomplishment?

Did it relate to work or to home?  This may be a difficult question to ask, so you might want to start by making a list of what you have accomplished this year and narrow it down to a single accomplishment that you would call your proudest.

What was your major learning experience during the year?

This might be work or personal.  Sometimes life lessons take years to learn, until one day it dawns on us to take action and that becomes the major learning experience for the year.  Or, it could be that we are hit suddenly with a crisis that literally stops us in our tracks and forces us to confront facts and events that become a major learning experience. Continue Reading…

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